Albany firefighters must improvise when saving pets - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany firefighters must improvise when saving pets

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Firefighters not only save people, but also our four-legged family members.

There is oxygen equipment designed specifically for first responders to use on animals, but right now, Albany firefighters have to improvise.

Firefighters rescue cats and dogs from house fires often.

"We look at it the same as we look at humans," said Albany Fire Dept. Lt. Ricky Thompson. "It's a life. It's somebody's property or pet or loved one. So we try to go in and rescue them the same as we would a person."
  
But for these Albany firefighters, one incident in 2010 is still fresh in their memories. They resuscitated Katrina Hall's dog, Chico.

"Well [for] what we did that day, we have different size masks," explained Senior Firefighter Roderick McKenzie. "We have the pediatric [mask], like for kids. And I think we used a pediatric mask that day, the smallest one that we had. And [we] just put the pet's nose close to it. So it wasn't 100% sealed, but [oxygen] was enough going to him."

Hall said she's still thankful for these firefighters who saved her Chihuahua.

"Without them, I wouldn't of had the time that I did have, the years that I did have left with Chico.  So it was amazing," said Hall.

Chico died later last year, but his memory certainly lives on.  

"I just remember it laying on the ground, then what, five minutes later it was running all over the yard," said Hall.

While firefighters were able to save him, some say oxygen masks for pets would make the job much easier.

"Their facial features and the way their face is shaped doesn't work with our regular masks that we use for humans," said Lt. Thompson. "So it's a challenge that way. Plus, as they start coming around they don't like you holding them down and trying to keep them still, so they're wanting to fight you a little bit and get away."

"I think it would be very helpful, because we love our animals the same way we love our family," said Hall. "So that would be a good thing for us and for the animals as well."

For now Albany firefighters say they're improvising without pet oxygen masks, but hope that they might also receive a donation to help save more animals.

Sumter County firefighters do have animal oxygen masks.
They received them in June through a grant from Invisible Fence. They were the first in Georgia to get the equipment free through that company.

Copyright 2014 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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